A person living with dementia who mismanages their medication is at heightened risk of adverse, drug-related events, hospitalisation and even death.
Potential tell-tale signs of medication mismanagement include:
- Missing doses;
- Taking additional doses or doses that are too high or low;
- Taking medication at the incorrect time;
- Not identifying a medication by its brand name or colour;
- Using expired medication;
- Not tolerating or reporting medication-related side-effects;
- Having difficulty swallowing;
- Refusing medication;
- Forgetting to fulfil prescriptions, or running out of medication;
- Miscommunication between patient sand doctors seen privately, or in hospital in relation to medication changes;
- Not informing doctors of over-the-counter medications that may interact with prescription medications; and
- Forgetting to take medication not packed in the blister pack (such as short-term antibiotics, or variable dose medication, such as warfarin).
To help identify potential medication issues of concern, the government funds reviews performed by accredited pharmacists, known as Home Medication Reviews in Community Settings or Residential Medication Management Reviews in Residential Care. These reviews require a GP referral.
Pharmacies can provide Medschecks for which an appointment may be necessary.
Blister packs, consistent routines, electronic aids, alarms or dispensers, signs, magnifying glasses, locked boxes or family carers are among strategies that can be implemented to help improve medication compliance and safety for the person living with dementia.